14.1 The Forest Festival and The Stall of Rose
Fuunto—or so the air growled.
The two landed on the hillside near a city chosen by Noin with the casualness befitting that of his high position.
From the high ground, the beautiful city could be seen. It was surrounded by a rich forest draped with snow. Dia took in the beautiful scene.
It was a town somewhat similar to Fashitar.
The town was surrounded by a forest in the same way, but it was also different.
The snow-covered trees were illuminated by a mysterious glitter Dia had never seen before. The roof tiles of one building were colored like jewels. Calling it a big theater wouldn’t have been a mistake. A green dragon rested on the roof.
Beyond the bustling streets where people were walking was a church with a slender spier. Food stalls appeared to line the streets on the festive night.
Fairies could be seen dancing to the elegant waltz of an orchestra coming from somewhere.
In terms of scale, the capital of Fashitar would be larger.
However, that town, which couldn’t be called big, was so beautiful, it was mesmerizing.
In the square in front of the large church in the center of the town, there were magnificent ornamental trees that usually only appeared in storybooks. A large star-shaped stone shined brightly at the top of the ornamental tree. The fairies could be seen flying around it.
Exhaling a quivering sigh, Dia absorbed what she was seeing with her heart.
Still, she couldn’t feel any excitement—her body trembled ever so slightly.
“T, t, there’s a fairy…!”
“Yes. This town with small mountain streams and forests is within the Kingdom of Verclair which you so yearn for. I’m not ready enough to take you to the center of the Weim. In this territory, it’s considered a small town, but it’s still beautiful.”
It was the land of fairytales that Dia had always longed for, a place of life which contained the breath of the nonhumans.
It wasn’t the central headquarter filled with the beautiful residences of Lords like she had heard about, but it was still dreamlike.
Always, always—she had always wanted to visit that place. That night was Evemeria. It was an occasion that she would no longer be able to see after she died.
“…Just being here, my stomach is already full.”
“…Shouldn’t it be your chest?”
“Y, yes! I mean to say my chest!”
Dia was immediately immersed in the beauty of the glorious city.
It seemed that there was more snowfall than Fashitar, but the snow on the sidewalks had been carefully removed. At the fountain amidst the park, fairy maidens she hadn’t seen in the sky caught her eyes—they were cheering. They seemed to taking a bath under the snow filled skies.
“…Noin, there’s a strange thing on the sidewalk in front of the store with that red sign!”
“Ah, that’s a bread monster.”
The rectangular creature walking along the snowy sidewalk was a loaf of bread from any perspective—however, it wasn’t just a demon, but also a creature that lived in a back alley.
On the roof of the theater was some kind of forest dragon. It seemed to be perching there so it could listen to the music leaking from the theater. The manager welcomed the cohabitation. By letting it listen to good music, it would give the forest’s blessings to the building.
Noin seemed to have visited that place before to buy things—he also taught her various things.
People who heard the sound of the bell from the church and came out from the open door seemed very happy, although their facial expressions couldn’t be seen.
The reason she didn’t feel envious of them was because tonight, she was granted the luxury of joining their side.
“…How happy would I be, if I could stay here forever.”
“Hoo, you like the food stalls?”
“C, can I see them?”
When she heard the word ‘stall’, she bounced inside his arm.
Was that what her father and brother used to talk about when her family was still alive?
She heard that a stall was a nice facility where ordinary people could get a very special treat, and in addition to the food being tasty, it was also cheap.
They would’ve been able to bring Dia along once she reached ten years of age—butthe promise was never fulfilled.
Not only did she have a festive supper earlier that night, she also had two cakes.
Still, Dia’s belly screamed when the delicious smell wafted from the town.
“…No way, you didn’t eat?”
“I ate everything. It was delicious…”
“Good grief… tomorrow, don’t rip through your dress, okay?”
“M-my dress won’t rip apart!”
It isn’t a dream! I will be able to enjoy food from the stalls! I’ve always longed for this!
Excited but also overwhelmed, Dia wiped her forehead with the back of her hand—even though she wasn’t in any sort of fight, yet.
Then, suddenly, she saw the hem of the dress prepared by Noin as it swayed softly in the night wind.
The dress was crisp blue, made of fine textured velvet with delicate laces of white gray which appeared resembled matte silver.
The coat she wore was so smooth that she wanted to sleep while hugging it. According to Noin, it was made of the fur of a fog dragon, and dyed using fairy dye.
When she wore it, she didn’t feel cold at all. Then, when she remembered it was made of dragon fur, she was so excited, the edges of her lips turned up.
In the freezing wind, Noin’s hair, which he tied together using a wide, black, ribbon, swayed.
His profile, as he muttered that they had no time to spare, was brilliant and beautiful enough to be called impressive.
If tonight was the night of the festival, then he was the night of good looks.
He was so beautiful, it was deemed scary by humans to touch him. Ever so slightly, hopelessness bled into said beauty.
Despite so, Dia had always loved the king of the scary, but gentle night land.
“Noin, why do you always tie your hair?”
“Because it’s an obstacle to handle what I control.”
“…Mumu, I wonder what is it that you control—or maybe, I am better off not asking.”
Dia, who murmured while smiling, immediately groaned when his fingers flicked her forehead.
What a wicked feat! To cause her forehead to redden during a festive night!
“I’ll tell you someday. I’m afraid that by teaching you qualities, your attention will be distracted.”
“…D, do you perhaps control um, m, mukmugris?”
“Shut up. As if that could happen.”
“T, then, judging from what Dilvier always brings as he pleases—are you the King of the Night Cloud Sparrow!?”
“Alright, now shut up.”
Dia looked around from within Noin’s arm, she gazed at the footmarks on the ground.
It was like a well-developed observatory on a hill overlooking the town. Long ago, it used to be the military hub of a kingdom, a lookout surrounded by forest that overlooked the town.
On the stone wall, a mysterious plant with flowers akin to pills shone—from the cracks, the flowers stretched their leaves. Down the stairs, as the forest slowly descended, there were shimmers here and there—it was both mysterious and lively.
That’s right, it’s very lively…
Without any signs of beasts, the forest of Fashitar was calm.
Dia liked the tranquility of such a forest, but that town’s forest was so lively, it made her realize it was because a lot of people lived there. It was under the light of such a vivid night that Dia saw such a scene for the first time in her life.
On the trees where heavy snow was piling up like a canopy that bordered the night sky, there were glowing fruits similar to red apples about the size of a fingertip. The squirrel, which specialized in winding things like stardust around a branch with threads, had fairy wings on its back. The flying creature was mysterious—it was akin to a pencil that could fly.
In the forest, beautiful flowers of winter genealogy bloomed in the snow. Nectar which held its blessings crystallized—or the flower itself crystallized due to the abundance of the blessing of Evemeria, becoming a flower of crystal.
What a beautiful, colorful, and horribly foreign world.
Dia finally understood the meaning of Dilvier’s words.
A gem that didn’t shine and a gem that shined had such a difference in power.
There was such a difference between the forest of Fashitar and the forests surrounding that town.
“Why wasn’t I aware of something so beautiful!? I am so happy, my stomach—chest is full!”
“Not only beautiful, there are many beautiful things that are also daunting and evil. Get used to it little by little. Right now, you can’t walk on your own.”
The words made her feel warm—Dia’s heart became abundantly warm.
However, she was also overwhelmed by the mysterious colors of the foreign world she was seeing for the first time. She couldn’t digest it well.
However, she felt the temperature of Noin’s arm which held and lift her tightly.
He would look around and stare at the distracted Dia from time to time. His kindness diminished Dia’s hopes.
“…Noin, a strange guy has appeared.”
***T/N: They’re having their date after so long! Dia! You forgot to ask if the Bread Monster can be eaten or nah!!! –I, I am sorry, my species can be quite barbaric and invasive sometimes…
Other than that… Isn’t Dia’s heart in her stomach all along?